NORWELL IS NEVER TOO FAR BEHIND
The Knights are in the semi state round for the first time since 2014 (fourth overall) and have not gone to state since 1977. It is important to keep in mind that they’ve fallen behind multiple times this season and fought back in the game. Sometimes, they win those (i.e. Garrett) and sometimes they don’t (i.e. Carroll). But the reality is there really hasn’t been a deficit too big for Norwell to fight back from yet. The Knights clearly are going to try and night get down on Saturday, but even if they do, never count them out. The fight in the Knights is tough to rival.
THE SB WASHINGTON PACE
All four previous times that South Bend Washington won a Regional title (2006-09), they also won the semi state. Can they keep that trend alive? A lot of that has to do with the pace they produce. It is a very hectic and frantic one but they thrive in it as well as anyone in the state. Lakeland did a really good job in the Regional final in hanging with them for three quarters but it was too much in the end. Can Norwell keep this pace in an educated manner for four full quarters? Because everything is looking like the Panthers can again. Their 61.4 points per game ranks in the top 35 in the state, but the manner on how they push is impressive.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
KENNEDY FUELLING, NORWELL
Rightfully, the senior class gets a lot of focus for this Norwell group but this freshman represents the next wave well. How dangerous the veteran players on this squad are from multiple spots on the floor makes things open up for Fuelling. Her ability to read the floor and spot up opposite of Kaylee Fuelling and Lauren Bales drives gets her in great positioning. Add to that she is a tremendous knock down shooter when she gets hot.
MILA REYNOLDS, SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON
At 19.1 points and 9.3 rebounds, the 6-foot-2 junior is tough at the basket. Teams constantly throw everything they have at her to keep her away from the rim but it rarely works out. Problematic for others too is that she isn’t a terrible three point shooter either. Reynolds makes this Panther team tick with her aggression.
MAIAH SHELTON, NORWELL
You’ll see why more in our key for a Norwell win, but Shelton is critical because how much raw emotion she plays with. Straight faced on the court, Shelton is an aggressor and has a strong ability to take over games when she decides she wants to. She is as good as anyone in the area at that. Shelton may actually be playing the best basketball of her career right now and is a menace on the glass and around the basket.
AMIYAH REYNOLDS, SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON
The sophomore is scrappy and contributes in a lot of ways. Norwell will have to keep an extra on her because she is all over the court at all times. She leads SB Washington in assists at 6.5 per game but also registers four steals, 7.5 rebounds and ten points per game. Every successful team needs a do it all and the Panthers thrive because they have one of the best intangible players in the state.
KEY TO VICTORY
NORWELL – PLAY WITH EMOTION
The Knights thrive when they get emotional. It gets them a little rowdy, more aggressive and they all feed off each other in those moments. So don’t be afraid of the emotion. This is an emotional day with emotional moments win or lose. Norwell will be best to be able to build off that, not let the moment get too big but also not let the moment just pass as something normal.
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON – KEEP FRESH LEGS
You’ll notice how much talk is in the pace of the Panthers. To do that, especially this late in the season, requires staying healthy and avoiding fatigue as best possible. The Panthers will need to intelligently use their subs in this one, finding times to stray away from their top players where they can without too much of a drop-off. Once thing they can’t do is avoid the bench, who has played well throughout this tournament. Just six Panthers have played in all 26 games with the next seasoned player at 19 game appearances this season.
John Harrell, the expert of the state, has percentages favoring South Bend Washington by a pretty significant margin. The thing about computer generated numbers is, they never tell a full story. This Norwell team has not been one to just fit expectations and that has been true for years with this senior class. Yeah we may get called homers for this one, but something just tells me that Norwell building for this moment won’t be in vein. BOUNCE PICKS NORWELL